AV Receivers & Amplifiers Reviews



Duo delight

Cambridge Audio’s new duo phono stage is a discount, says Noel Keywood.

Cambridge Audio cruise issues like analogue phono levels, which might be a technological pimple within the wider digital panorama introduced by digital. And that’s apparent with the little Duo. For this you get a small field that connects between turntable and amplifier (as a result of that’s what they do) in order to play LPs.But it’s refined inside, completely manicured to do the job correctly the place most will not be.

Bodily, there’s little or no to the Duo. It’s a small, light-weight and unassuming gray field. The quantity management – right here comes a gripe – impacts solely the headphone output, which I feel is a chance misplaced: achieve from enter to line output is fastened, and achieve by way of the headphone output too low to drive most energy amplifiers direct.

So this little unit is greatest partnered with a traditional built-in amplifier with fairly delicate enter (200mV or so). It isn’t purposed to run energy amplifiers

direct, one thing I love to do because it makes for a pure and easy system.

I’m unsure why the Duo has a headphone output, since most built-in amplifiers have one in any case. Is it as a result of headphones are so fashionable these days that (younger) individuals don’t hassle with amplifiers and loudspeakers – as in my home the place my son thinks his World Audio Design Okay588I amplifier and Revolver loudspeakers are fantastic, however by no means turns them on as a result of he’d

Neat internal construction reveals the quality of the Cambridge Audio Duo phonostage. At a price of £250 it puts many other rivals to shame.Neat internal construction reveals the quality of the Cambridge Audio Duo phonostage. At a price of £250 it puts many other rivals to shame.

Neat inner development reveals the standard of the Cambridge Audio Duo phonostage. At a worth of £250 it places many different rivals to disgrace.

“With rock music the Duo sounded fulsome and each deep and broad in its soundstage”

should take away the ear buds to which he has turn out to be biologically hooked up?

The Duo is aimed toward such an viewers I think.

This little phonostage has a devoted shifting coil (MC) enter, providing larger high quality than MM. Since cheap ear buds turned fashionable with iPods and an excellent proportion of that viewers appears to have determined it’s value paying extra for higher high quality over-ear headphones, maybe because the LP returns shifting coil cartridges may also turn into in style; in any case good ones now value £ – a lot the identical as respectable headphones.

When switching from MM to MC a light-action press button actuates relays internally, giving a slight delay and full absence of switching cracks or thumps, even with the excessive achieve of MC chosen and quantity turned up.

Internally then, the Duo is extra refined than it seems – and in addition extra refined than most rivals, particularly on the worth.

There are not any low cost DIP switches beneath and there was additionally no hum. Greatest to remember nevertheless that measurement and use revealed it has low achieve, which means low output MCs usually are not greatest suited, since quantity should be turned up very excessive. Nevertheless, on the similar time this can be a super-quiet preamp so even with quantity proper up there’s virtually no hiss or hum.

Additionally on the rear panel is an uncommon addition – a stability management. Cartridges can endure slight channel imbalance, this management permits it to be nulled out.


I used a Timestep Technics Evo SL- 1210 Mk2 turntable with SME309 arm – and cartridges have been initially an Ortofon 2M Black (MM) and an Ortofon Cadenza Bronze MC.

The Duo was first related to a Creek Evolution 50A amplifier to see how its low achieve would affect utilization – and all labored properly sufficient: I needed to flip quantity up however there was seemingly loads of grunt out there. The sound struck me as mellow.

For extra crucial evaluation and anticipating a much less mellow presentation I moved on to our McIntosh MCI52 reference energy amplifier with a Music First Audio passive magnetic preamplifier (0dB achieve) that acted as a clear quantity management forward of it.

Loudspeakers with each amplifiers have been Martin Logan ESL- X hybrid electrostatics and cables Chord Signature Reference. All elements have been fed by an Isotek Evo3 Mosaic Genesis re-generated energy provide to remove mains affect.

With the 2M Black I used to be once more struck by the delicate treble of this phonostage that our Creek had revealed. Nevertheless it additionally sounded smooth, clear and tidy.

I measured the Duo fed from the 2M Black to make sure its response wasn’t being affected by enter capacitance, however all was properly.

Barely unsettled by outcomes from our 2M Black, which is probably rising previous gently, I fitted a brand new Audio Technica AT-760SLH to the SME309 arm and this was each crystal clear and forceful up prime – so the Duo hides nothing, it simply lacks harshness. With the extra tonally correct 750SH stylus the Duo sounded proper.

Our Cadenza Bronze MC additionally got here throughout as straightforward going however on the similar time the Duo offered a silky open sound stage with loads of depth, absolutely revealing the qualities of the Bronze, the place finances phono levels generally masks its talents.

As LPs span one after the opposite I got here to understand that the Duo is a sophisticate. It’s stony silent with MC – extra so than is widespread – and I can inform somebody at Cambridge has studied this problem and chosen a super-quiet chip.

It’s additionally dynamically quiet: with quantity turned a good means up, once I dropped needle into groove on a Decca re-master (180gm) from Professional-Ject of Mozart Symphonies there was little floor noise: ticks and pops being virtually absent.

The Wiener Philharmoniker came to visit as full bodied, strings smooth-to-silky and the sound stage spacious.

No shock that after this the marginally sheeny Direct Metallic Grasp from 2L (Norway) of

The rear panel contains moving magnet and moving coil inputs, plus a balance control. Rubber feet anchor the unit firmly on a hi-fi rack despite its relatively small size. Balanced XLR outputs are missing, and bal­anced inputs too (rare). But both add to cost - and this is an affordable unit.The rear panel contains moving magnet and moving coil inputs, plus a balance control. Rubber feet anchor the unit firmly on a hi-fi rack despite its relatively small size. Balanced XLR outputs are missing, and bal­anced inputs too (rare). But both add to cost - and this is an affordable unit.

The rear panel incorporates shifting magnet and shifting coil inputs, plus a stability management. Rubber ft anchor the unit firmly on a hi-fi rack regardless of its comparatively small measurement. Balanced XLR outputs are lacking, and bal­anced inputs too (uncommon). However each add to value – and that is an reasonably priced unit.

Marianne Thorsen additionally enjoying Mozart – Violin Concerto No4 – had misplaced its sheen, as an alternative sounding nicely lit however convincingly balanced and structurally composed in a pure area.

LP was by no means well-liked for classical due to ticks and pops, however I hardly heard them from the Duo. It really works splendidly with MC cartridges: assume smooth and complicated.

With rock music the Duo sounded fulsome and each deep and broad in its soundstage. It lacked the quick deep bass of the

“Though seemingly easy the Duo is in reality technologically refined… with a svelte sound”

Rotel RA-1572 I assessment on this difficulty, however then warp filters are a combined blessing, however bass was nonetheless robust. Mark Knopfler’s laconic vocals drifted out of a darkish background in ’Madame Geneva’s’ from the Kill to Get Crimson LP, underpinned by a fulsome bass line. The Duo has good low- finish heft and – general – teased out and displayed the strengths of a shifting coil cartridge with spectacular capacity.

I discovered I might crank headphone quantity as much as most with Audio Technica’s ATH-ADX5000 headphones and never be deafened. A bit extra achieve would have been applicable right here nevertheless it was not an enormous problem general.


Though seemingly easy the Duo is in truth technologically refined, utilizing logic managed switching of small-signal relays to offer slick thump-free operation. Achieve is low so quantity wants turning up, however there’s nearly no hiss or hum: consideration has been paid to this – few rivals at any worth compete.

With a svelte sound that ably reveals the qualities of a top quality MC cartridge, and in addition will get the perfect from top quality MMs, it’s the one to go for – particularly on the worth.

I used to be utterly impressed – and I think (younger) headphone customers excited about LP might be too.


Frequency response of the Duo was similar between MM and MC, not all the time the case as a result of MC typically runs out of puff at low frequencies. It has a wonderfully flat response (correct RIAA equalisation) right down to 15Hz (-1 dB), under which an unusually steep warp filter applies – 30dB attenuation at 5Hz – spectacular. This eliminates loudspeaker cone flap with warped data.

Achieve by way of the Line outputs with MM (shifting magnet) was low at x83, which means the Duo will give barely 100mV out. Quantity should be turned proper up on partnering amplifiers. The MC (shifting coil) enter gave x1000 which is once more on the low aspect.

The quantity management solely influences the entrance panel 1/4in (6.3mm) headphone socket that delivers 1.7V most, earlier than overload. This can be utilized to drive an influence amplifier direct however achieve could be very low at x55, which means 1mV in from an MM cartridge will give 55mV out the place most energy amps want 1000mV for full output.

The Duo is distinguished by very low zero.09 muy/V equal enter noise – higher than most MC phono levels available on the market. The low MM worth means the preamp contributes no noise to that produced by the coil of an MM cartridge.

The Duo might do with extra achieve however in any other case its warp filtering and tremendous low noise make it stand out.

Frequency response   15Hz- 20kHz

Achieve                               x83, x1000

Overload 33mV in, 7mV in / 7V out

Separation 66dB

Noise                              zero.09 muyV e.i.n.

OUTSTANDING – amongst the perfect.

VALUE – keenly priced.


10 Complete Rating

Low value however top quality MM/MC phono stage that’s technologically refined and svelte in its sound. A should have.


  • smooth sound
  • tremendous quiet
  • stability & headphones


  • fastened warp filter
  • no output degree management
  • low achieve
Consumer Score: Be the primary one!

The place to purchase?

Cambridge Audio - Duo MM/MC Phono PreamplifierCambridge Audio - Duo MM/MC Phono Preamplifier

Cambridge Audio – Duo MM/MC Phono Preamplifier

Hear Element, Heat, Readability, and Naturalism from Your Vinyl LPs: Tremendous-Worth Cambridge Audio Duo MM/MC Phono Preamplifier Additionally Consists of Headphone Amplifier with Quantity Management Anchored by a cutting-edge switch-mode energy provide for fast responsiveness, wonderful precision, excessive output, and low-noise operation, Cambridge Audio’s Duo MM/MC phono preamplifier  pushes the boundaries on the analog efficiency you will get at a really modest worth level. Suitable with each MM and MC phono cartridges, Duo touts surface-mount know-how for the PCB board – leading to cost-belying accuracy, black backgrounds, and shorter sign paths. Multi-parallel capacitors that yield terrific RIAA accuracy (zero.3dB as much as 50kHz) and a high-quality headphone amplifier with quantity management additionally come normal. Once you play LPs by means of Duo, you will discover the element and textures, sense the heat and naturalism, and see the outlined photographs for which analog is famend . Extremely-compact dimensions (1.9 x eight.5 x…

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Cambridge Audio Alva DUO, Moving Coil & Moving Magnet Phono PreamplifierCambridge Audio Alva DUO, Moving Coil & Moving Magnet Phono Preamplifier

Cambridge Audio Alva DUO, Shifting Coil & Shifting Magnet Phono Preamplifier

Squeeze each inch of element out of your document assortment with our highest high quality shifting magnet and shifting coil phono stage, with built-in headphone amp; the Duo Phono Preamplifier.

Whether or not you’re dusting off your document assortment or embracing analogue by way of the vinyl revival, there’s a singular expertise available from the second you drop the needle in your favorite album. To protect the distinctive heat of the vinyl sound, the Duo phono preamplifier has been rigorously designed with a state-of-the-art change mode energy provide and a brand new floor mounted circuit board format to scale back undesirable noise.

Because of the low-level alerts created by a turntable, not all hi-fi amplifiers will allow you to join on to a report participant. The phono preamplifier boosts this sign to one thing an influence amplifier can work with. The problem at this stage although is that noise can simply be added.

For this reason we’ve designed the Duo round distinctive elements that ship the nice and cozy and detailed…

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Cambridge Audio +44(zero)20 7940 2200 cambridgeaudio.com

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